I use Linux. Browser, libreoffice-writer, freemind, pdf-reader, and generally not much else. I like to think my system is as free as I can make it, but of course I currently have to use proprietary gear: a computer (acer aspire 5742g), a usb sound card (edirol ua25ex), headphones and an electric guitar.
So I installed ubuntustudio 12.04, carefully looked at the ua25ex manual and adjusted the switches (also checked the headphones, badly tightened cable!), told the "sound configuration" that I didn't want to use the computer's sound system, fired up qjackctl and told it to use the ua25ex card, and then fired up rakarrack (fx on, reverb, tell qjackctl as in the picture), then zynaddsubfx (instrument piano, tell qjackctl as in the picture), then tell rakarrack (midi) ... even ardour 2.8x.
Mostly, I had to discipline myself to check every detail, not accepting that a connection was good until I disconnected it to see if there was no sound, and reconnected it again to hear it come back. I hadn't done this in the previous _years_, and was lost all that time. (Yes, you read that well. Years. I had managed some things, but never this full system.)
My conclusion is: it's possible (tho' the midi is experimental, slow and delayed), I need to make it automatic (drill, baby, drill), and all this could use some usability (not the last mile, but rather the last inch: explain every tag rather on the verbosity side).
More when I've processed the pictures, reproduced the process, uploaded some audio, etc. I'd really like to document this. We users need to document successes, and I know many others are doing that. I mean we need to document whole systems, explained for seven-year-olds. This might help developers, right?
The sound-to-midi feature of rakarrack is experimental. I hope it grows to become something really useful! (Excuse the enthusiasm: I'm 50 years old and I've been waiting for this since I was 15, when I kindly "stole" a family member's recorder so I would have two identical recorders - both battery operated, I remember well - and be able to record a second guitar while the one I had recorded first played out loud.)
Also, I want to document my thinking on how to do, erm, a little bit of song-writing. I'd like to write a song a day for a month, and publish at least one in three. This will take everything from tuning and making backups to designing to recording to publishing. I need to get ready for that, and document it, and feel at ease with the process before I jump in.
It'll be crap, but it will be my crap. And yours, cos over the years a few kind souls created open licenses, software, gear and what not.
More soon, I hope!